Oregon State filmmakers debut coral reef crisis documentary

A team of Oregon State University filmmakers spent years documenting the coral reef crisis. Now they are bringing what they found to the big screen.

A team of Oregon State University filmmakers spent years documenting the coral reef crisis. Now they are bringing what they found to the big screen.

"Saving Atlantis" is a feature-length documentary focusing on the dramatic decline of coral reef ecosystems around the world and the impact on people who depend on them.

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The film is narrated by Emmy-winning narrator Peter Coyote, who has voiced several documentaries by Ken Burns.

It's part of Oregon State's commemoration of its 150th anniversary.

David Baker and Justin Smith co-directed the documentary.

"When we started this project, the number that was thrown around by scientists and journalists was 40 percent of the earth's coral reefs have vanished in the last 50 years. And over the three years of filming this project, now the number is close to 60 percent," Baker said.

Baker and Smith followed coral microbiologist Rebecca Vega Thurber as she studied reefs around the world.

"About five years ago I started seeing things I had never seen before: whole reefs die," said Dr. Vega Thurber.

"She gave us a call and said, 'Gear up, learn how to scuba dive. We're going to the Red Sea and that was it,'" said Smith.

The team would eventually travel on to Australia, French Polynesia, Columbia and Hawaii documenting what they witnessed underwater along the way.

"What we're seeing is this continuous loss of corals worldwide and the main drivers of that are things like climate change but also local factors like pollution," Vega Thurber said.

The 75-minute documentary focuses not only on the impacts on the reefs themselves, but also the people who depend on them.

When: 7 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 15 at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (This screening is sold out)

Other screenings: 7 p.m. Feb. 20 at the LaSells Stewart Center at Oregon State, 875 S.W. 26th St., in Corvallis; and 5:30 p.m. Feb. 21 at the Newport Performing Arts Center, 777 W. Olive St., Newport

Tickets: Free, but limited supply; reserve at coralreefmovie.org

Watch the trailer:

Saving Atlantis - Short Trailer from Oregon State University on Vimeo.

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